by Zoe Powell
It’s a sunny day, the kids want to get out, but you’re not sure where to go with a pram in tow. There’s plenty of accessible places to visit in the Dandenong Ranges, so pack up the pusher, jump in the car and spend a day or weekend outdoors.
Get up close to wild, native birds at Grants Picnic Ground, in the Sherbrooke Forest. Walk the grounds and do your own bird-watching – cockatoos, rosellas and parrots are among the wildlife at the park. Grab some food at Grants on Sherbrooke, or if you prefer to bring your own, there are barbecues and picnic tables to have a cook-up. Then spend some time walking the nearby tracks, including the Margaret Lester Forest Walk, which is a 500m, 15-minute loop that is easy for prams to navigate.
Olinda village’s main stree tis a shopper’s heaven, and it’s easy to navigate with a pram. While away the hours looking through shops full of homewares, jewellery, sweets and clothes – and make sure you stop in at Geppetto’s Workshop, a whimsical shop with old-fashioned and modern toys. Take a break with some lunch or afternoon tea at one of the many eateries – there’s plenty of cafes and restaurants to choose from, and plenty of seating and space to accommodate prams.
A short, pram-friendly walk from the Olinda and Mt Dandenong townships is Candlelight Cottage. The fully renovated cottage, built circa 1880, has three bedrooms, plus a kitchen, laundry, bathroom and separate shower, and a private garden with a barbecue and outdoor seating – perfect for a family stay. Another child-friendly option is Emerald Cottage, which is not far from Emerald Lake Park and Puffing Billy.
There’s plenty of places in the Dandenong Ranges to have a picnic, and The Deli Platter in Olinda can help you fuel up for an outdoor family feast. Call ahead to order a freshly prepared gourmet hamper, or bring your own basket and fill it with gourmet products. And if you just want a quick bite to eat or caffeine hit, the café also serves up breakfast, lunch, cakes and sweets, cheese platters and beverages.
An easy option for pram-pushing parents, the playgrounds of the Dandenong Ranges are a great place for the kids to run off their energy. Montrose Community Playground has a wooden play space with swings and climbing net, and has lots of shade, plus toilets, picnic and barbecue facilities. Borthwick Park Playground in Belgrave is another great set-up, with plenty of shade, but no toilets.